What to Set Your Thermostat to When Away

October 18, 2022

Whether it’s a tropical vacation or a lengthy trip for work, leaving home means making plans for your HVAC system. You can't use it as long as you’re not home, so you can make adjustments as needed to conserve your energy use. Just the same, you shouldn't just turn it off for the entire duration of your trip.

For the most part, it’s best to leave your HVAC system on and adjust the temperature depending on whether it's winter or summer. That way you can minimize energy costs without stressing about coming back to an uncomfortable home. We’ll review why you should avoid turning your HVAC system off as well as the best thermostat settings for summer and winter.

Here’s Why You Don't Leave Your Thermostat on Hold

While you might be inclined to shut your HVAC system down before a trip, this can end up causing big problems by the time you come back. This is especially true if the weather will be severely hot or cold while you’re gone.

For instance, turning the HVAC system off during the summer could cause very high humidity. Not only will your home feel muggy and uncomfortable when you come back, but it could have also stimulated mold/mildew growth or pest infestations.

And during the winter, not using the furnace might lead to pipes icing over or even bursting. It’s exhausting to come home from a long trip only to find substantial water damage near a broken pipe.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While at Work

You can optimize the temperature even when you're just going to work. Because you’re not home for around 8 hours or so, it doesn’t make sense to keep an empty home heated or cooled as if you were there. In general, it’s encouraged to adjust the thermostat by 5 degrees or so. This means that if you prefer a comfortable 72 degrees, try adjusting it to 76-77 while you’re out.

But you could save even more if you're open to further adjusting the temperature. As reported by the Department of Energy, you might save nearly 10% on your HVAC expenses by increasing the adjustment to 7-10 degrees.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While on a Trip in Summer

If you're on a lengthier trip in the hottest part of summer, you can make more significant adjustments. This helps you avoid using too much energy while still safeguarding your home from the problems that come with leaving it un-air conditioned. Around 5 degrees is recommended for short trips while around 10 degrees is ideal if you’ll be out of town for 2 weeks or longer. If you prefer keeping the house at 72 in the summer, 78-82 will offer the best results.

Ideal Thermostat Settings While Away from Home in Winter

To determine the most energy-efficient thermostat setting for a winter getaway, just lower the temperature by the same amount you would adjust it in summer. 68 is a frequent winter thermostat setting, so lowering it to 63-58 will keep your plumbing safe while limiting how frequently your furnace operates.

A Smart Thermostat Can Help: Benefits of a Smart Thermostat

A great way to manage your home’s HVAC system while away from home is by investing in a smart thermostat. This advanced type of programmable thermostat uses intelligent software to understand your preferred comfort habits. It applies these preferences and makes automatic changes to the schedule for higher energy efficiency. And with Wi-Fi integration, you can remotely adjust your heating and cooling using a mobile device or tablet.

Smart thermostats are packed with features to help you save energy and lower costs. For example, specific models can monitor electricity prices to increase heating or cooling when prices are lowest. They are compatible with high-efficiency, variable-speed equipment to optimize how long your HVAC system should run. It’s the ideal tool to simplify how you use your comfort system. If you’re considering investing in a smart thermostat, there are a variety of ways you can bring down your costs, in essence getting a smart thermostat for free. The next time you are away from home, you can enjoy true peace of mind that your HVAC system won’t cause any trouble while you’re away from home.